could your child be obese?
Kohl’s Cares and Dayton Children’s provide the questions parents need to ask.
“According to the 2014 Dayton Children’s Community Health Needs Assessment, the majority of parents of overweight and obese children do not perceive their children as having any weight problem,” says James Ebert, MD, lead physician for the lipid clinic at Dayton Children's. “It’s hard to identify when a child is overweight because heavier weights have become more common and therefore normalized in our society.”
However, it's well known that childhood obesity is a serious risk factor for chronic diseases in adulthood. Although many parents might not realize that overweight and obese kids and teens often have weight-related problems during childhood.
Kids who are considered obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, at or above the 95th percentile) are at risk for:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (blocked breathing during sleep)
- Breathing problems (such as asthma and exercise intolerance)
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Bone and joint problems
- Liver disease
- Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides (which are risk factors for cardiovascular problems)
- Menstrual irregularities
- Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
- Bullying and discrimination
Although genetics or hormones can play a role, most of the time childhood obesity is caused by eating too much and exercising too little.
Regardless of the reasons why a child may be overweight or obese, addressing weight challenges and developing healthy habits early is important to prevent weight-related disease.
It’s important to ask yourself the right questions to help monitor your child’s health and fitness.
Questions to consider include:
- Has your child’s weight increased more than 10 pounds in the past year?
- Does your child develop difficulty breathing during activities faster than other children?
- Does your child complain of painful bones or joints with exercise?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your child might be at risk for childhood obesity.
talking to your doctor about your child’s weight
“Remember, your doctor is your partner in caring for your child,” says Ebert. “It’s important that you ask your doctor about your child’s weight to determine if your child is at risk for obesity-related diseases.”
at your child’s next doctor’s appointment
Ask your doctor about your child’s Body Mass Index (BMI). This measurement is based on your child’s height and weight. Ask where your child fits in on a typical growth chart. This chart compares your child’s BMI to other children the same age, and makes it possible to determine whether your child is overweight or obese. If it is determined your child is overweight or obese, find out if your child is at risk for any of the diseases typically associated with childhood obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep problems, frequent headaches, liver disease, and arthritis.
“Ask if your child is gaining weight too fast or needs to lose weight,” says Ebert. “Finally, ask your physician about some strategies to help your child become healthier. The sooner you can begin developing healthy habits, the sooner you can begin to address weight challenges.”
Starting the conversation early with your child's physician about proper weight and nutrition can help avoid long-term health problems and the lifelong diseases associated with childhood obesity.
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